Posts tagged ‘house’

Hurtling towards winter with no curtains…

Scientist Boyfriend and I have just got back from a lovely week’s holiday in Derbyshire. For reasons best known to himself, my dad has an irrational dislike of Derbyshire and so despite many childhood holidays in various holiday cottages or caravans in various damp counties around the UK, there is a huge Peak District-shaped hole in my experience. I have not yet been able to fathom my father’s reasoning, but he has evidently not visited the farmer’s market in Bakewell. Which is superb. We made a detour to visit the farmer’s market in Belper en route to Hope in order to find the mushroom people and the beer-and-cheese people again. We then spent a wonderful week in a very nicely decorated cottage playing with the woodburner, watching food programmes (Valentine Warner, Jamie’s Ministry of Food and River Cottage: Autumn in one week) and cooking exciting new things like pigeon and beef shin in sub-standard cookware* and occasionally dragging ourselves over a hill to feel a bit more virtuous about it.

I also read Sharon Astyk‘s book Depletion and Abundance and have been happily quoting examples to anyone who will listen to me to prove that the Industrial Revolution was a big con and agrarian societies actually had much more leisure time than we do, and were probably fitter, happier and better fed to boot.

Yesterday I went to a talk by Fiona Reynolds (director of the National Trust) on the future of the countryside and farming, which was very interesting and very sound – I’d been slightly worried (I used to work for the NT, in their first farm shop at Wallington, actually, and am familiar with the… typical demographic profile of their members) that it would be about pretty cows and posh beef and cheese for rich people, but she took a very broad approach, looking at land with regard to food, energy and water in light of climate change and (though she only referenced it briefly in passing, and not by name) peak oil. I was v impressed.

As far as future-proofing my own house goes, I have decided that this year (when I have a job and little time but more money to spend on heating) I will actually make curtains to keep the cold out instead of improvising with blankets (which I never got round to doing last year, when I had intermittent, low-paid employment and thus both an incentive to save money on heating and copious time in which to make curtains). We’ll see how this goes. I’ve decided that we will not turn the heating on till it’s done, which is fine by me as I grew up in Northumberland with a father who went round the house turning the thermostat down and growling at us all to put a jumper on if we didn’t like it and I could probably quite happily go many more weeks with a woolly jumper, my new woolly socks, running up and down stairs a couple of times when I get cold and retiring to bed with a hot water bottle if all else failed (anything not to have to make curtains!!), but Scientist Boyfriend is a (half-Swedish) soft Southerner who grew up in a warm house and has been nagging me since before we went away to put the heating on and close the bedroom window at night.** (I have now relented on the second point.) I have made one curtain (out of four) and feel I might come to regret my rash pledge… You will probably find me in mid-December, ice on the inside of the windows, hands frozen to the sewing machine, repeated muttering of profanities not having encouraged it to stop creating big snarls of top-thread on the underside of the fabric when I try to secure a seem. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I suspect the Victorians would not have put up with it and can only conclude the shortcoming is my own, but repeated unpicking and fiddling with the tension has not helped.


* Actually, most of it was very good, particularly the small wok-ish pan, but the stew kept drying out because there wasn’t a dish with a suitably heavy lid. Due to various bad experiences in previous holiday cottages, we now take salt and pepper, a cafetiere and a knife sharpener with us when we go away, but both feel taking one’s own Le Creuset casserole dish on holiday is a bit excessive.

** My father used to say, ‘It’s good for the soul,’ about pretty much any inconvenience actually, but specifically living in a cold house (often with all the lights turned off if he had his way). I have adapted this to, ‘It’s good for the immune system,’ which probably has more scientific justification but will doubtless be just as irritating to my children.

October 22, 2008 at 6:04 pm 2 comments

Not evicted!

Well, our landlord came to inspect us yesterday. We were slightly worried what they’d make of the 5 demijohns of wine, plastic bottles full of other suspicious-looking home-brew and the sheep fleeces in the study, or whether they’d agree that ‘maintaining the character of the garden’ could accommodate the acquisition of a dalek and the depositing of wine boxes with salad in them in every available space, but Scientist Boyfriend said they were ever so impressed we were growing so much stuff and that I’d made 10 jars of jam and agreed to all our requests to tinker around with the garden and put up curtains.

So, I’m allowed to dig out the spindly-looking fern out and replace it with something. Scientist Boyfriend wants veg, I want things for bees. Or we might put some fruit bushes in, so future tenants will benefit too. We’re also allowed to put in a water butt. I wonder if this will mean we’re doomed to get no rain and thus counteract the summer-destroying effects of the garden table, or if the weather pixies will get so confused about which to avenge us for that order in the cosmos will break down…

Now I have to figure out how to turn the curtains in our cupboard into something that will fit on our window before next winter. Hmmm….

July 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

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August 2020
The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."